Calm Tummy Cure- Candlelight Kundalini Yoga

12 Apr

The soft glow rising from the floor, gently illuminating the peaceful faces of those gathered together. It is dark in the room, but the atmosphere is full of light. And love. Air whistles gently in and out bringing easy breaths,like waves lapping in to shore and back to sea again, bringing with it a natural rise and fall to the time. The sheer number of people causes an enveloping warmth, wrapping around, comforting, soothing… Outside, the world rushes by, downtown traffic never stops, to-do lists grow and grow. Rush, hurry, move, consume, no time to breathe! While the time slips away outside the doors, within it is suspended. Healing occurs, and it is just the here and the now…

Last night, I went to a radically different concept of yoga. I soaked up the fantastic information the very knowledgable teacher conveyed on how Kundalini yoga has the power to heal the mind and the body.

Most yoga in the US is taught as a variation of Hatha yoga, with emphasis on physical exercises called vinyasas. Kundalini yoga takes a different approach. It’s focus is on the movement of energy into, out of, and within the body. Chakras, meaning “wheels” in Sanskrit, are the seven energy centers in the body located up the spine that, when aligned, allow your life force to flow effortlessly. Illnesses, of the body or mind, can block the chakras, causing pain that can manifest itself both mentally and physically. During the class, we focused on the third- the Solar Plexus Chakra, and the sixth, the Third Eye Chakra. They can both be unbalanced in an eating disorder, and exercises like Kundalini Yoga can help bring them back into balance, bringing you closer to lasting peace from the war with food:

Eating disorders screw up your digestive system. I won’t go into details… it’s not pretty or fun. But recovery is so much easier when your digestive system works with you, rather than against you. According to my instructor, eastern beliefs put the blame for gas, bloating, and other GI issues on the third chakra being blocked. To remedy try these calm tummy cures:

  • Remember to breathe! Often times, the ED can creep up on us, starting off with a small yet sinister thought, but growing into a demanding, powerful, and relentless voice that criticizes us all day long. It is easy to get caught up in the spiral, letting the anxiety take over. But not breathing tightens our abdomen, trapping energy there and causing an angry, gurgling gut. Yikes! Take time to release. Stop right now. Take just one minute to notice any tension in your abdomen and let it go. Unclench. Release. Breathe.
  • Breath of Fire: If your symptoms are severe, my instructor suggested doing this practice several times a day. It’s so simple! First, stick your tongue out and pant as if you were a dog on a hot summer day. Put your hand over your belly button. As you pant, your abdomens should contract quickly. When all your breath is exhaled, inhale deeply. Now, instead of contracting, your stomach should expand. The final step is to close your mouth and do the same exercise, but through your nose. Now you are fire breathing!

Starvation causes a cycle of depression. Like many others with eating disorders, I am sad to say I have compromised my body to attain a false “perfection.” It has been biologically proven that when the body reaches a certain low weight, it shuts off certain functions, like reproduction and the secretion of hormones, in order to preserve the most vital organs, like the heart, lungs, etc. There is simply not enough fuel to be “wasted” on anything more than what is absolutely necessary to keep living. Hormones affect many aspects of both mental and physical health, but my instructor focused on a particular subset called endorphins:

  • Aptly nicknamed “the feel good hormones,” endorphins boost our mood and strengthen the immune system. The main site they are excreted at is the pituitary gland- a small, pea-shaped gland situated slightly above the middle of the eyebrows. In eastern medicine, the spot is also called the Third Eye and it is the sixth chakra. A depressed level of endorphins caused by malnutrition is a cause of the “down-in-the-dumps” feeling, familiar to many of us with eating disorders.
  • To bring this chakra back into balance, we did a chanting exercise of long “OOOOHHHHMMMM”s repeated for several minutes. The instructor emphasized angling your tongue upwards toward the roof of your mouth, which creates a deep vibration in the skull. According to him, the vibrations stimulate the pituitary gland to release the feel good hormones, or endorphins. Done at the beginning of many Kundalini classes, chanting is supposed to help put yogis in a positive, calm state for the rest of the practice.
  • I’ve extended this concept beyond the yoga studio and sometimes, especially when I know my schedule is going to be busy or stressful, I multitask in the shower and “OOOOHHHHMMMM” my way to a peaceful start of the day. My mom and brother might think I’m crazy, but it truly helps(plus he sings in the shower, so we’re even!)!!! The vibrations bring you back to INSIDE your body. Stay centered…. “OOOOHHHHMMM!!!”

I felt so calm when I left the yoga studio the other night, practically glowing. Buzzing from all those extra endorphins. As a result, I have been doing well in my recovery, nourishing my body, and sleeping much better! If you have a Kundalini Yoga class available in your area, I’d highly recommend trying it at least once. Such a great way to learn about alternative healing for EDs!

Now relax…

Ahhh.

All is calm.



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One Response to “Calm Tummy Cure- Candlelight Kundalini Yoga”

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  1. Reiki for the Brow Chakra | Metaphysical Beliefs - April 12, 2011

    […] Calm Tummy Cure- Candlelight Kundalini Yoga « keepingcourage […]

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